Chronicles of a Med Student: Reaching Out

Last Updated on June 26, 2022 by Laura Turner

I’m sorry, I can’t—I have to study. These are words that have become so routine to me that I barely have to think about them before they come out of my mouth. Ugh, how has it become so reflexive? I was worried that this would happen, at least in the first two years of medical school when I would spend more time with my computer and books than with actual people. The sad thing is that whenever I have a free second, it’s not really a free second because I just find myself wondering if I should be doing something at the moment instead of thinking about making plans with friends I never see anymore. And these are not only the friends I’ve made this year. Sadly those I neglect most are generally the friendships I’ve cultivated over many years.

Relationships, whether it be with your family, spouse, or other close friends are obviously a challenge to maintain when you live and breathe schoolwork. Though I don’t necessarily have the time to sit around and feel sad about how I don’t have time to see my best friend from college or visit my family for my dad’s birthday, it still occasionally hits me all at once. Those days are the worst—I feel so disconnected from the rest of the world. In medical school, they teach us how to build relationships with our patients so we can treat them in the best way possible. It’s really too bad that we don’t have time to maintain relationships with our loved ones in real life. Despite this bleak view, we are trained to exude compassion despite our circumstances and thankfully, I’ve picked up on it. Not only has this helped me become a better medical student and future doctor, but it helps me understand how other people must be feeling as well. My friends have to be feeling the same way I do when I don’t see them for months. It’s for this reason that I’ve decided to completely take one night off per week to do what I love—spend time with the people I love. Keeping Friday nights free does two things for me: it provides me with a much needed break right after a very long week, and it lets me reconnect. My friend from college and I go out to dinner just about every other Friday. The ones I don’t spend with her and my college friends I use to spend with my boyfriend. The rest of the weekend is either spent studying or I go home to spend time with my family.
It’s all about balance. I think about it like the 80-20 diet. That’s the one where you eat healthy, unprocessed food 80% of the time and eat what you like 20% of the time. I use the same principle to divide up my time between studying and time off (even though it’s closer to 90-10 but it’s enough to keep me sane). Reconnecting with other people is such an integral part of life and happiness for me that I feel like I would lose my sanity if I didn’t. There are some people at my school that crank out 12 hour days regularly—I see them slumped over on the couches in the library with smeared notes in one hand and day old coffee in the other. Is that how I want to live my life? Even though I’m in school, I want to look back on my days here as being somewhat enjoyable despite the long hours. It’s the relationships I have with my friends and family that keep me going and keep me being myself—after all that’s who made it to medical school and that’s who I don’t want to lose.
About the Author
Adelle is a 1st year medical student who loves to hike, bake chocolate chip cookies, and doodle on the corners of papers.